Background: The diversity of the HIV proteome influences the cellular response and development
of an effective vaccine, particularly due to the generation of viral variants with mutations
located within CD8+ T-cell epitopes. These mutations can affect the recognition of the epitopes, that
may result in the selection of HIV variants with mutated epitopes (autologous epitopes) and different
CD8+ T-cell functional profiles.
Objective: To determine the phenotype and functionality of CD8+ T-cell from HIV-infected Colombian
patients in response to autologous and consensus peptides derived from HIV-1 clade B protease
and reverse transcriptase (RT).
Methods: By flow cytometry, we compared the ex vivo CD8+ T-cell responses from HIV-infected
patients to autologous and consensus peptides derived from HIV-1 clade B protease and RT, restricted
by HLA-B*35, HLA-B*44 and HLA-B*51 alleles.
Results: Although autologous peptides restricted by HLA-B*35 and HLA-B*44 did not show any
differences compared with consensus peptides, we observed the induction of a higher polyfunctional
profile of CD8+ T-cells by autologous peptides restricted by HLA-B*51, particularly by the production
of interferon-γ and macrophage inflammatory protein-1β. The response by different memory
CD8+ T-cell populations was comparable between autologous vs. consensus peptides. In addition,
the magnitude of the polyfunctional response induced by the HLA-B*51-restricted QRPLVTIRI
autologous epitope correlated with low viremia.
Conclusion: Autologous peptides should be considered for the evaluation of HIV-specific CD8+ Tcell
responses and to reveal some relevant epitopes that could be useful for therapeutic strategies
aiming to promote polyfunctional CD8+ T-cell responses in a specific population of HIV-infected